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Coutts Earns Prestigious Research Award

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Golden, Colo., July 8, 1999 — A research fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory was selected recently for a major award from the American Vacuum Society (AVS).

Dr. Timothy J. Coutts won the 1999 John A. Thornton Memorial Award because of his "...innovative research, teaching and technical leadership in optimizing and applying thin-film photovoltaics (solar electricity)." Thin films are a promising path to low-cost photovoltaics because—compared to conventional solar cells—their manufacture uses less of the expensive semiconductor material that converts light into electricity.

Throughout his 15-year career at NREL—which follows some 20 years of earlier research activities—Coutts has contributed to the improved performance of thin-film cells through his fundamental research on transparent conducting oxides. These oxides are antireflective cell coatings that conduct electricity.

He also has contributed to the improved efficiency (sunlight-to-electricity conversion ratio) and lifetime of indium phosphide solar cells for space use. He is a pioneer in the field of thermophotovoltaics, a technology that uses heat instead of sunlight to generate electricity, and has authored or co-authored more than 150 publications.

Coutts will receive the award and give a lecture in October at the International AVS Symposium in Seattle.

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